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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Major infrastructure development planned for three campuses
2014-01-06

 

DHET Sound Studio, African Languages and Humanities projects.
More students will be accommodated on our campuses, with two new residences being built on the Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein Campuses respectively. The residences are part of a grant received by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

The new residences will accommodate 250 students each and the planned completion date is end of 2014.

Other major projects planned for the three campuses are a Student Life Centre on the Qwaqwa Campus, new lecture halls for the South Campus and a new sound studio on the Bloemfontein Campus. The sound studio will be erected where the old squash courts used to be.

The Department of Physical Planning stated the aim is to create a facility that can house a recording studio that will function as a multi-purpose centre where students can get practical experience in sound and visual recording. Albie Louw, Chief Officer: Property Management in the Department of Physical Planning, says the studio will have a screening room, a multi-camera recording studio, editing room, video- and audio-control room and lecture-recording studios.

The projects have different completion dates, but all fall within the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 financial years.

On the Qwaqwa Campus, the existing amphitheatre in front of the library will get a roof, so that it can be used more effectively and be more accessible. It will create a new active open space that can be utilised by students for informal study, a social space and for formal functions or promotions.

Other facilities to be upgraded include the electrical infrastructure on the Qwaqwa Campus. Disability access on the campus will also be improved.

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